Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is an aggressive malignancy with a poor prognosis due to its highly invasive and metastatic potential. The molecular pathogenesis underlying the invasive mechanism of ESCC is not well known because of the lack of existing models to study this disease. p120-Catenin (p120ctn) and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have each been implicated in several cancers, including ESCC. p120ctn is down-regulated in 60% of ESCC tumors, whereas EGFR is the most commonly overexpressed oncogene in ESCC. For these reasons, we investigated the cooperation between p120ctn and EGFR and its effect on ESCC invasion. We show that p120ctn down-regulation is commonly associated with EGFR overexpression. By using a three-dimensional culture system, we demonstrate that the inverse relationship between p120ctn and EGFR has biological implications. Specifically, p120ctn down-regulation coupled with EGFR overexpression in human esophageal keratinocytes (EPC1-PE) was required to promote invasion. Morphological comparison of EPC1-PE cells grown in three-dimensional culture and human ESCC revealed identical features, including significantly increased cellularity, nuclear grade, and proliferation. Molecular characteristics were measured by keratin expression patterns, which were nearly identical between EPC1-PE cells in three-dimensional culture and ESCC samples. Altogether, our analyses have demonstrated that p120ctn down-regulation and EGFR overexpression are able to mimic human ESCC in a relevant three-dimensional culture model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine